Minimagpie turns 7 months old today. I’ve pretty much said all I can bear to say about the passing of time and the growing-older of this sweet baby, but suffice to say that this milestone–like every milestone–is bittersweet.
I scattershot (we’ll call it hauku-like) approach to her seven month birthday:
Favorite New 7-Month-Old Tricks.
+Squirming around like a whirling dervish. Even simple tasks, like putting on a diaper, or trimming her nails, or finagling a spoonful of beets into her mouth, have become complex undertakings.
+Trying desperately to figure out how to crawl. She pushes herself up into cobra pose, or inches her little butt in the air, but can’t quite put two and two together.
+Dropping everything on the ground and looking at us for a reaction.
+Laughing with me: if I start to laugh, she laughs back. There’s a scene in Season 1 of Master of None where a young father tells Aziz that his son woke him up in the middle of the night and something led the two of them to burst into laughter, and he says [paraphrasing]: “I mean, it’s just the best. Me and this little human I made, laughing together in the middle of the night.” I know exactly what the screenwriter meant — there’s something magical–even a little beyond reason, mystical–about those moments of deep connection with your own baby. Like, this perfect little creature is laughing back at me! With me! And I made her! And life is so good.
+Twirling her little ankles around in a clockwise motion when she’s excited.
+Turning pages of books.
+Playing with tags, cords, straps, papers — anything flimsy and easy to move and that she probably shouldn’t touch.
Sleeping at 7 Months.
When we went in for minimagpie’s six month wellness check, I told the pediatrician that I was still waking up every three hours to feed her throughout the night. The pediatrician said, kindly: “Oh, no — you poor thing. She should be able to sleep through the night or maybe wake up once to feed. I’m giving you permission to let her fuss it out.” It was funny the way she worded it; I can only assume that many frazzled parents have turned to her in the hopes someone will say: “You need to try the cry-it-out method; I authorize you to do so.” She added that we could consider going in to soothe her from the side of the crib during her wakings.
It sounded so easy when she said it…
That night, I was determined to let her fuss through her first wake up, and reasoned that I’d feed her at her other wakings and, over the course of the next week, gradually get her down to one feed per night. Around three hours after she went to sleep, she woke and cried for about ten minutes before I gave in and tried to “soothe her crib-side.” This made matters far worse: she went absolutely ballistic. (“Well, that escalated quickly” – Ron Burgundy.) I gave in and fed her but vowed that I’d let her cry it out the next time around.
And I did.
And it was hard for several nights. Mr. Magpie would have to rub my back and distract me from throwing in the towel and going to her, and I’d find it hard to focus on anything but her cries. I was a horrible companion to Mr. Magpie during those stretches — I’d just sit there, watching her on the monitor, feeling flustered and helpless and counting the minutes. He’d tell me: “The best gift we can give her is a full night of sleep.” And: “She’s not alone — you have your eyes on her all the time.”
But, we’re now to a place where she’s routinely sleeping from around 7 pm until around 4 am, and then I feed her, and she sleeps for another 2-3 hours until she’s up for the day. She does sometimes wake up and fuss for a few minutes here and there, but it’s minor and manageable.
Life is feeling much better with more sleep.
(Side note: If you are reading this at seven months and you feel bleary-eyed and so far from getting a full night’s sleep but don’t yet think you’re ready to try the cry it out method — don’t worry. I read a very reassuring post from the mommy blog The Uphill, and she was still waking every few hours with her son almost nine months in and she made me feel so much less guilty about the fact that my baby was not yet sleeping through the night. On the other hand, if you need a push to try to the “Cry It Out Method,” I can promise you that the first few nights are the worst and then it gets much, much easier.)
(Second side note I’m almost afraid to write, so I’m tucking it in here tweedle-dee-don’t-look-at-me: minimagpie takes 2-3 naps throughout the day, almost always one at 10 AM and one at 2 PM, and they usually last between 1-2 hours, but occasionally she’ll take a cat nap elsewhere, too. We are in the unpopular minority on this one, but have never put her on a strict schedule — sometimes she’ll give us sleepy cues at 9:30 am and other times at 10:30 am, and we just let it happen. I know that so many smart and wonderful mothers have sung the praises of putting a baby on a schedule, and I’ve played around with keeping to one as well, but it seems to make life a lot easier and less stressful for everyone when we put her down when she’s telling us she’s sleepy and shrug it off when she’s not. Otherwise, I find I spend twenty minutes listening to her cry or rocking her to sleep, when I could have just let her hang out happily and put her down a little later without a peep. Insert anxious emoji face.)
I will say that these processes–sleep-training and figuring out her nap routine–reminded me yet again of the importance of filtering through the whirlwind of contradictory parenting advice, taking what you like, and listening to your motherly instincts. (Sorta like how I came to think about weaning.) Sleep training was a process — it took two weeks or so — and even though I hadn’t wanted to apply the “cry it out” method, it was the only one that seemed feasible after I realized that going into her room would elicit a histrionic sob fest on her end. But even now, I sometimes give in and go to her when she’s been crying a little longer than we’ve come to consider normal. I’m human — what can I say? The bottom line is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way or time to do these things. I’d sometimes question myself when I’d hear that so-and-so’s baby was sleeping through the night (STTN to those mamas that frequent the forums) by three weeks or so-and-so felt that the cry it out method was cruel and unnecessary or so-and-so felt that the only way to approach sleep training was by shutting the door at 7 pm and reopening it at 7 am. To which I have to remind myself: You do you, you do you, you do you. One very generous mom (thank you, M.D.!) wrote to me when sending minimagpie a sweet gift: “My only advice is not to listen to anyone’s advice. You know your baby better than anyone else — trust yourself.” Thank you, M.D.
Feeding at 7 Months.
I’ve already talked at great length about where we are with breastfeeding/weaning/bottle-feeding (I still nurse her at 7 am, 1 pm, 7 pm, and 1 am and bottle feed her in between and to supplement), but feeding her solids is another topic entirely. I started out by feeding her purees of vegetables and fruits (many from Mr. Magpie’s garden!) and occasionally putting trickier-to-prepare stuff in her pulp feeder (like melon and kiwi). Then I started realizing the genius and convenience of all of those prepared organic pouches by Plum Organics, Happy Baby, etc., which package all kinds of creative flavors together — pumpkin, chickpea, spinach? Sure! Cherry and oats? Why not! — and started adding those into the rotation, too. I tried at some point to give her “soft spears” of foods a la baby led weaning but — has anyone else experienced this? — found that since minimagpie has two big teeth on the bottom, she was able to tear chunks off and I was horrified she would choke. My pediatrician suggested we wait until nine months to try giving her bigger pieces of food (I guess she’s not a big BLW fan), so I’m sticking with purees of fruit, vegetables, starches, and proteins to varying degrees of thickness right now.
Also, I have to say that I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of feeding her multiple times a day soon. Our pediatrician said that we should aim to have her eating twice a day by around seven months and three times a day by nine months. Between breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, and spoonfeeding, and all the cleanup associated with the latter, I feel like I’ll be feeding her all day! (What else is new, though…)
Mamas: any recipe suggestions? Once we get settled in New York, I plan to devote more energy to coming up with creative recipes for her now that she’s beyond straight-forward one-fruit purees, but welcome your thoughts!
Favorite 7-Month-Old Gear.
+The Skip Hop activity center and Ingenuity Base are gifts from the gods. I’m sorry I’ve written about them so much, but they are mainstays in our life right now. She especially loves to sit in the base when we put it on the counter — she’ll watch us make dinner, or watch me work, or just hang out until it’s time to try some solid food. They give my arms a nice break now that she’s outgrown her Boppy lounger (sob) and isn’t as interested in rocking back and forth in her 4Moms Rockaroo, and they help her strengthen her leg and neck muscles, too.
+This Farmyard Friends activity book kept minimagpie entranced for about an hour straight when I first unveiled it on the flight to New York, and it’s yielded hours of enjoyment since, too. It’s soft (aka chewable — and also does not pose the threat of falling on her when she’s handling it herself), has lots of crinkly paper, flaps, and tags (oh so delightful for a seven month old), and includes a little farmer doll that’s attached to the booklet via a string. Do you know how much infants love strings, cords, and ropes — basically anything that could injure them? A lot. A lot a lot. (Also, the string ensures that said farmer does not wind up on the floor 1,000 times in a row.) It’s the little things, people, but this toy/book/activity is perfection.
+These “mini bilibos” (stacking plastic cup toys) are in heavy rotation in the Magpie Nest. She loves these and any sort of plastic cup or water bottle.
+She has a truly hideous crinkly/squeaky toy similar to these Lamaze toys from Lord knows where (literally, I have no recollection as to how we acquired this) that brings her endless delight.
+These have always been her favorite bottles — we still use them constantly. For cleaning, I swear by the Boon grass rack (which I love, because I can turn it on its side and store it in a cabinet when not in use) and this bottle washing brush (the skinny tip cleans the nipple!). I love the Boon rack so much I bought the travel version, which has paid off nicely on our three airplane trips!
+I can’t tell you how many moms have stopped me to ask about this formula dispenser. It’s probably the most commented-on piece of gear we have for minimagpie. And it’s awesome. We pre-apportion the right amount of formula for her bottle and then carry a water bottle with us. It’s so much easier than bringing prepared bottles or baggies full of formula or whatever — and I actually compared this one to a number of other ones before realizing how perfect it is. Inexpensive, super compact, dishwasher-safe, and fairly easy to pour into a bottle without making a mess. Each dispenser has three compartments, so we always have enough formula on hand for at least three feedings. Such a lifesaver while traveling in particular, but I always keep it stocked in my diaper bag! (See what else is in my diaper bag.)
+We still use her Aden and Anais bibs daily — they are super absorbent. I have cute monogrammed ones for photo opps, too, but then formula just soaks right through her shirt…
+These munchkin diaper bags have also saved my life on several occasions, including after that epic blowout in Manhattan when I had to put ALL of her clothes, my shirt, and my changing mat inside one while we were on the go. More typically, I use them when I’m hanging out with friends and don’t want to disgust them by throwing a dirty diaper into their trash or need to change her in the back of our car and don’t have a trashcan handy.
+I love the Spot book series by Eric Hill for minimagpie right now. They have simple plot lines, bright colors, and lots of flaps — but, more importantly, the pages leave a lot of “fill in the blanks” for you to narrate around with your baby. Some of minimagpie’s books are SO straight-forward, but these always leave room for additional commentary/story-telling, i.e., “uh oh, Spot spilled the cake batter everywhere!” or “look, there’s no baby cow there,” etc. It makes book time a little more interesting for everyone. (Also, these books tend to showcase moments where children help their parents or even teach their parents something.) I especially like Where’s Spot and Spot Goes to the Farm. P.S., More great books for babies.
+With the move to NYC, I’m super glad we have this Lille baby carrier, which gets crazy good reviews. (I spent hours and hours researching the best baby carrier before minimagpie arrived — and this seemed to be a consistent front-runner.) I love that Mr. Magpie and I can both use it (versus wraps, which tend to be carrier-specific), and that it’s configurable for her to face out or in. It’s not particularly breathable, but such is the tradeoff, I suppose — it’s very sturdy. Also, I wouldn’t exactly classify it as *easy* to put on. I feel like we are always helping each other in / adjusting straps / etc. I’m sure we’ll get faster with time…
Items I’d love to buy for minimagpie in the near future (but currently suspending all purchasing until after we’ve moved!):
+One of these Joovy walkers. I feel like we’ll only have space for either her Skip Hop center or this. Maybe we’ll sell the former in another few weeks and in favor of this?
+OK, how bougee am I — I got the Puj kneeler and now I think I need the Puj armrest for bathtime. I mean, your elbows do start to hurt!
+A few of you suggested sippy cups with straws vs. spouts for oral development — we ordered this one based on reviews and our overall positive experience with all things OXO (um, this is the weirdest thing I’ve been obsessed with in my life, but it is so well-designed) but I’m also eyeing this and this.
+I love these old-school toys from European company Haba.
+I’ve gotten to that stage where costume jewelry is a hazard — she’s pulled out earrings and put necklaces in her mouth that really don’t belong there. Chewbeads to the rescue.
+Moving to NY, I think I’ll have an excuse to buy the Babyzen Yoyo for when the Bugaboo is too big/bulky. So geeking out over it.
+Also, while I’ve loved her Ingenuity booster seat in lieu of a high chair, I might need one of these Inglesina seats that can attach to any tabletop as a space-saving solution. (I like the lime green or orange colors best.) I’m just not sure where we’ll put that booster seat now with such limited counter top space in the kitchen — and we’re selling our oversized dining table (an earlier version of this, which — incidentally — has been one of the sturdiest, most handsome fixtures in our homes since we’ve been married; we get so many compliments on it, and it has stood up well to hundreds and hundreds of dinners), likely in favor of something like this.